References to C.J. Dennis in the Bulletin


Aw, I'm sick o' the whole darn human race,
   An' I'm sick o' this mundane ball;
I'm sick o' the sight o' me brother's face,
   An' his works an' talk an' all;
I'm sick o' he silly sounds I hear,
   I'm sick o' the sights I see;
Ole Omar K. he knew good cheer,
   An' it's much the same with me.

Gimme a bit o' a bough to sit Beneath, an' a book of rhyme, An' a cuddlemsome girl that sings a bit, But don't sing all the time: That's all I ask, an' it's only just; For it's all that I hold dear - A bough an' a book an' a girl an' a crust; That, an' a jug o' beer.
Then I'll cuddle me girl an' I'll quaff me ale As we sit on the leafy floor; An' when the book an' the beer jug fail, I'll cuddle me girl some more. For jugs give out an' books get slow. But you can take my tip for square Tho' the bough an' the book an' the beer jug go, The girl, she's always there...
I'm sick o' the sound o' me fellow's voice, I'm sick o' his schemes an' shams; O' trying to choose when there ain't no choice, An' of damin' several dams; So, gimme a girl that ain't too slow, You can keep your book of rhyme, An' you bough an' bread an' your beer. Wot O! An' I'll cuddle her all the time.


Aw, go write yer tinklin' jingle, an' yer pretty phrases mingle,
Fer the mamby-pamby girl, all fluffy frill an' shinin' silk.
Them's the sort ter fetch yer trouble, when yer tries 'em, in the double.
Blow yer beauty! Wot's the matter with the maiden 'oo kin milk?
Them there rhymers uv the wattle!  An' the bardlet uv the bottle -
'Im that sings uv sparklin' wine, an' does a perish fer the beer;
An' yer slap-dash 'orsey po-it!  Garn!  If you blokes only know it,
You 'ave missed the single subjec' fit ter rhyme about down 'ere.
An' although I ain't a bard, with bloomin' bays upon me brow,
I kinsider that it's up ter me ter sing about The Cow...

0h, the cow-bells are a-tinklin', and the daisies are a twinklin'- Well, that ain't the style ersackly I intended fer to sing. 'Ark, was over music greater then the buzzin' sepy-rater, Coinin' gaily money daily fer the - no, that's not the thing! 'Omeward comes the cows a-lowin', an' the butter-cups are blowin'; But there's better butter in the - Blarst ! That ain't the proper way See the pretty milkmaid walkin' - aw, it ain't no use er talkin'. Listen 'ere, I want ter tell yer this: A cow's ther thing ter
pay! Sell yer 'orses, sell yer arrers, an' yer reapers, an' yer plough; If yer want yer land ter pay yer, sacrifice yer life ter Cow.
Cow, Cow - Sittin' underneath the bough, With a bail, an' with a pail, an' with a little stool, an' thou Kickin' when I pull yer teat there, Swishin' flies, the pretty creatur. Ah, there ain't no music sweeter - money squirtin' from the Cow...
Listen to the lowin' cattle. Listen to the buckets rattle, See, the sun is - (
'Ere! You Bill! Yer goin' ter stay all day asleep? 'Ustle, or yer'll get a taste er - Wot? No cheek yer flamin' waster! This is wot I get fer payin' 'arf a quid a week an' keep! Talk about yer unions, will yer? Right, me covey, wait until yer Come 'ere crawlin' - Where's that Sarah? Ain't she finished milkin' Spot? Is this wot I brought yer up fer; reared, an' give yer bite an' sup fer? 'Struth! A man's own kids 'll next be talkin' Union, like as not Garn, I ain't got time ter listen ter yer silly sniv'lin' now. Understan' me, you was born an' bred ter think an' live fer Cow!)...
Cow, Cow - (Bow yer 'eads, yer blighters, bow!) Come an' be initiated. Come an' take the milky vow, Put yer wife an' fam'ly in it; Work 'em ev'ry wakin' minit; Fetch yer sordid soul an' pin it, signed an' sealed an' sold ter COW.

"Den" (C.J. Dennis) in "Backblock Ballads and Other Verses." (Cole. Melb)

"Den" needs no introduction to Australia. For Backblock Ballads and O.V. contains the Austra--aise, and "Den" is our unofficial laureate. Readers of this volume will be glad to see that this blanky classic has been further enriched by other stanzas. But not for this achievement alone should the book be in the hands of every bloke out-back. For "Den" bubbles with unforced humor, he possesses a diabolical dextrity in rime and metre, and his is probably the best artificially humorous of the many Australian contributors of topical verse. It is true he runs to length: even in the two selection given above this page found it necessary to lop off what it regarded as rather unnecessary stanzas. His verses remind one of his "Juno Sue":-

She didn't 'ave no width, this piece -
   This elongated piece;
The figger that the 'ad was mostly length.
   I tell you, she reminded me
Of one perpetual lease
   That doesn't cease.
Now, 'ave you got 'er strength?

But in this prosaic continent poetry - and humor - is measured by a foot-rule, and the longer a contribuor is the longer he will be able to live. And "Den's" humor is not merely typographical; nor is he confined to the back-blocks:-

Me! that 'as barracked tarts, an' torked an' larft,
An' chucked orf at 'em like a phonergraft!
   Gorstrooth!  I seemed to lose me pow'r o' speech.
   But 'er!  Oh, strike me pink!  She is a peach!
The sweetest in the barrer!  Spare me days,
I carn't describe that cliner's winnin' ways.
   The way she torks!  'Er lips!  'Er eyes!  'Er hair! ...
      Oh, gimme air!

'Er name's Doreen....An' me - that thort I knoo The ways uv tarts, an' all that smoogin' game! An' so I ort; fer ain't I known a few? Yet some'ow ... I dunno. It ain't the same. I carn't tell wot it is; but all I know, I've dropped me bundle - an' I'm glad it's so. Fer when I come ter think uv wot I been.... 'Er name's Doreen.


"I wish't yeh meant it, Bill." Oh, 'ow me 'eart
  Went out to 'er that ev'nin' on the beach.
I knoo she weren't no ordinary tart,
      My little peach!
I tell yeh, square an' all, me 'eart stood still
To 'ear 'er say, "I wish't yeh meant it, Bill."

These extracts are all from a lyrical sequence entitled "The Sentimental Bloke," in which the poet depicts, with inimitable humor and tenderness, the courtship of Bill and his Doreen. "The Stoush o' Day," in this series is a brilliant description of the daily prize fight between the White Hope, Day, and the Nigger, Night. Its length precludes its quotation here. But there is room for its moral:-

An', square an' all, no matter 'ow yeh start,
The commin end of most of us is - Tart.

Poetically, these four lyrics are the finest things in the volume.

Though much of his verse is in dialect, this fact need not dismay the gentle reader; for the poet has thougthfully provided a glossary. From this we learn that chap is "any male personage below the rank of a personage." That cow is "a thoroughly despicable person, place, situation, thing or circumstance," and that a fair cow is an utterly obnoxious and otherwise inexpressible person, etc. Also, that the superlative of crook is dead crook; that Fatville is "the fabled abode of the Tories"; that strike me pink may, if necessary, be translated as "goodness gracious." Under the heading Stoush, "Fisticuffs," we learn: "Scrap is generic, and may be applied to all violent conflicts, whether dog fights, pitched battles or prolonged wars. Lash implies much brutality, and the employment of weapons not necessarily lethal. A mill is usually a glove contest. Stoush is a less orderly form of fistic combat; job or biff usually implies a single blow." And for Wowsers, the poet kindly supplies this note: "Where a dash replaces a missing word, the adjective blessed may be interpolated. In cases demanding great emphasis the use of the word blooming is permissible."

The Bulletin, 21 August 1915, red page

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004